Author Katja Wise, Photographed by Madison Brendle

Soon, we will be adorned with creative costuming elements from head to toe!

Hi! My name is Katja Wise, and I am a special events entertainer and hoopdance instructor based out of Raleigh, NC. When I first started costuming, I wasn’t sure where to turn to create my costumes. There were fantastic examples set for me by phenomenal, thriving performance artists in the Triangle…but I still had to figure a lot out by research, trial, and error. I hope this post will inspire you to create your own costuming details with fantastic shapes and dramatic, theatrical effects, while also being resourceful!

That’s right, put your wallet away and hear me out: we can achieve completely original, professional-quality performance looks on a shoestring budget! With a little investment of time and money, costuming doesn’t have to be a major expense.

If DIY (do-it-yourself) is a completely new field for you, it may seem hard to get started. Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” Creativity is a journey that challenges me to grow, because I know the more I invest in and explore my creativity, the more creative I become. I am grateful for the creatives who inspire and challenge me, and who celebrate my creations with me.

  • This post is for you if…you want to put just as much time into looking great as you spend practicing your performance craft. I keep my tutorials simple, for easy time-management.
  •  This post is for you if…you also want to be mindful with your money. When I have the opportunity to put in a small bit of time while also saving money, I get excited! 
  • This post is for you if…you want to achieve one-of-a-kind looks to provide the astounding characters your clients want.

There are only two ways to get that one-of-a-kind look: you either buy a one-of-a-kind costume or you make your own. You can choose to outsource, hoping others will see into your mind’s eye…or you can DIY to bring your vision to life!

Are you ready to save money and be a DIY Diva like me?

Here are my 5 tips for being a resourceful costume creator:

1) REDUCE, REUSE, and – that’s right! – UPCYCLE

Whether from your closet, a friend or relative’s closet, or a thrift store, upcycling saves time & money when costuming! When I upcycle articles of clothing, I look mostly at the pattern, fabric type, and the existing seams to determine what cuts/adjustments I’ll need to make and whether it will be worth the time it would take to save on fabric costs. 


A hot glue gun is the ultimate handcrafting weapon for creating ornate headdresses, masks, 3D effects, and more. It’s a small investment, and chain craft supply stores often run sales on mini hot glue guns. These are portable and easy to use even for on-the-go costuming. I never go anywhere without my hot glue gun!


Pro Tip: Use Tape or fine threads/small/loose stitches for temporary fabric re-shaping. A dress can be worn as a scarf, scarves worn as chunky bracelets, and pants in layers. I consider myself a sculptor of sorts as I twist, tuck, tie, and adjust garments into new shapes for new uses! Taping and loose thin seams work well for short term costume situations, since tape can easily be removed, and loose, thin stitches can easily be restitched to suit another purpose. 

Original Jumbo Shrimp costume design for “Under The Sea” themed event in Wilmington, NC. Photo Credit to fellow stilt walking performer, Irene!


One of my favorite looks is big shapely hair through stuffing and twisting! Save paper towel rolls and trim them to size, then stuff hair to create a molded dramatic look. Well placed buns also help. Complete the look with details that add sparkle or enhance the theme, and create unique hair accessories by hot gluing trinkets, flowers, or foam sculptures onto hair clips and headbands. 


Finally, keep a grid-lined notebook nearby – great for both writing and drafting to scale – for sketching, note taking, and other creative musings. You never know when your inspiration will strike so it’s important to store your ideas for later reference. Also consider using this notebook for outlining your special event costuming prep timeline. Organizational details like these are critical for DIY planning & the creative process. If you find yourself in a slump or creative plateau look back on your sketches and notes to refresh yourself with all your past inspirations. 

Keep a grid-lined notebook handy for scale design and planning.

So there you have it! DIY is a crucial element to creative and original costuming, and it can also be an enjoyable process. Watching your materials transform into the costume you’ve imagined is very rewarding, and your crafting skills will sharpen rapidly with dedicated practice.

To learn more through a one-on-one guided tutorial about how I create certain costume elements, please comment your requests! 

By putting time and effort into DIY costuming, it becomes effortless, and you will immerse yourself in creative flow. If you are intentional balancing your time and money resources, using these 5 costuming life-hacks will give you amazing DIY costumes while also enhancing your creativity! 


Photography by Madison Brendle

Hi! My name is Katja Wise and I am an entertainer and instructor based out of Raleigh, NC! I love hoopdancing and I swear by the grip of flowtivate Aromatherapy Hoop Wax! Though Circus Performers and Rhythmic Gymnast Hoop Dancers have always had secret weapons for keeping their hoop from sliding on slick costume fabrics, finally now Hoopers of all skill levels can find Hoop Wax in their favorite Hoop and Flow Arts Shops!

Now that hoop wax is on the market, performers can ditch unreliable gaff tape, unsightly 3M hoop liners, and put an end to permanently scratching bare hoops with sandpaper! Hoop Wax is quickly catching on as an industry-wide preference, and it’s easy to see why.

Hoop Wax and a convenient reusable carrying pouch photo by kemmitthoops

Without further ado, here are my TOP 5 reasons I LOVE Hoopwax!

1) Hoop Wax: It’s the Most Attractive Option

Hoop Wax is fantastic for bare or taped hoops, and wont dull the brightness of an LED! In fact, most hoop wax goes on clear! Your Polypro, HDPE, performance grade taped, and UV Reactive hoops can shine brightly; and the hoop wax won’t be a visible eye soar. 

2) Hoop Wax is Easy To Use

Applying a quality Hoop Wax to your favorite bare or taped dance hoop should be effortless! Simply rub the wax against the hoop until you achieve your desired grip! 

Photography by Madison Brendle

3) Hoop Wax Smells Amazing

I’ve gotta admit, all wax is not created equal. I prefer to use a scented hoop wax for an aromatherapy effect; which enhances present-moment awareness and aides in achieving Flow. Aromatherapy Hoop Wax is immersive, and can be enjoyed both by the hooper using it as well as those with noses nearby! My favorite wax is called Flowtivate and it is available through several retailers!

4) Hoop Wax is Long Lasting

Most Hoop Wax applications will last for several sessions. If you find that the wax on your hoop has collected dust, it can quickly be removed using a straight edge. Generally speaking, wax will only become dirty if exposed to extreme outdoor conditions. This means you can spend less time fussing with your hoop, and more time dancing with it!

Photo Courtesy of SynergyFlowArts

5) Wax is More Eco Friendly than Tape

When gaff tape is exposed to changing temperatures, it quickly peels off from the hoop and must be replaced. This is not only costly, but wasteful as well. Since Hoop Wax is long lasting, and often made with natural ingredients, it shines as one of the most eco-friendly grip options!

 It’s easy to see what all the buzz is about! flowtivate Aromatherapy Hoop Wax is made with Beeswax, Essential Oils, Coconut Oil and Good Vibes! Ask for flowtivate at your local hoop dance studio & flow prop shop!

What’s your favorite flowtivate scent? Let me know in the comments! 

If you’re interested in creating your own batch of flowtivate wax tailored to enhance your unique flow practice, request a free custom blending session consultation by e-mail
subject line: flowtivate Custom Blending